ANGELA'S CHRISTMAS

A reissue of McCourt’s Irish Nativity story.

Like his Pulitzer Prize–winning title, Angela’s Ashes (1996), McCourt’s picture book (first published in 2007 as Angela and the Baby Jesus) draws on his mother’s life. Recently adapted as a Netflix animated film, the story is now rereleased with a new title. In both versions, Colón’s delicate, sure watercolor, colored pencil, and lithograph pencil illustrations lend light and warmth to the story of a little girl’s worry that the baby Jesus in her church’s Nativity is cold. Filled with good intentions, she absconds with the figurine and hides it in her warm bed. Rich dialogue that captures the characters’ Shannonsider brogue enlivens McCourt’s storytelling while subtle characterization evokes tender familial dynamics. Angela’s elder brother, Pat, characterized as mentally disabled, sees her with the baby Jesus and tells their mother, who initially says he has “a great imagination.” Angela is upset when he persists and gives away her secret. Alarmed, but sure of her daughter’s benevolence, Mammy marches the family to the church to return the baby Jesus, where they encounter the priest and a policeman searching for the thief. The resolution hinges on Pat’s benevolence when he misunderstands the policeman’s gentle ribbing that his sister will go to jail and offers himself in her stead.

Warm indeed. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6122-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned.

WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A MOM

All the reasons why a daughter needs a mother.

Each spread features an adorable cartoon animal parent-child pair on the recto opposite a rhyming verse: “I’ll always support you in giving your all / in every endeavor, the big and the small, / and be there to catch you in case you should fall. / I hope you believe this is true.” A virtually identical book, Why a Daughter Needs a Dad, publishes simultaneously. Both address standing up for yourself and your values, laughing to ease troubles, being thankful, valuing friendship, persevering and dreaming big, being truthful, thinking through decisions, and being open to differences, among other topics. Though the sentiments/life lessons here and in the companion title are heartfelt and important, there are much better ways to deliver them. These books are likely to go right over children’s heads and developmental levels (especially with the rather advanced vocabulary); their parents are the more likely audience, and for them, the books provide some coaching in what kids need to hear. The two books are largely interchangeable, especially since there are so few references to mom or dad, but one spread in each book reverts to stereotype: Dad balances the two-wheeler, and mom helps with clothing and hair styles. Since the books are separate, it aids in customization for many families.

New parents of daughters will eat these up and perhaps pass on the lessons learned. (Picture book. 4-8, adult)

Pub Date: May 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6781-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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A fresh take on an enduring theme.

MOST PERFECT YOU

When Irie tells her momma she hates her big poofy hair, her momma explains that everything about Irie was perfectly custom made.

Irie wants her hair to swing and bounce like the “pretty hair” that “everyone else” has. But Momma tells her that she didn’t make Irie to be like everyone else. “I made you to be you.” Momma explains that when she was expecting Irie, she talked to God and made special requests. Out of all the skin tones in the world, Momma chose her favorite for Irie. The same for her hair type, her sparkling eyes, her kissable nose, and her bright smile. Momma also chose a good heart for Irie, and when she was born, she was perfect, and as she grew, she was kind. When Momma tells her “you are all of my favorite things,” Irie runs to the mirror and sees herself with new eyes: a “most perfect me.” This sweet, imaginative tale highlights the importance of parental love in boosting children’s self-esteem and will be a touching read-aloud for families who have struggled with issues of fitting in. The story is a challenging one to illustrate; the full-color digital art is warm with soft shades of natural-looking color but struggles to create engaging scenes to accompany Momma’s explanation of her conversation with God. The multiple spreads showing Irie and Momma flying through the atmosphere among clouds, stars, and hearts become a bit monotonous and lack depth of expression. Characters are Black. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A fresh take on an enduring theme. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-42694-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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